Bakeries on a roll for Easter

EASTER just wouldn't be Easter without the traditional hot cross bun - toasted and slathered with butter, or eaten on their own, the traditional fruit variety still seems to reign supreme.

Theories about where the hot cross bun originated vary.

Before Christianity, it is believed that cutting crosses into dough was held to ward off evil spirits, pagans used to bake small, spiced and sticky buns to celebrate spring and honour the goddess Eoestre, while the Christian tradition holds that the buns were eaten on Good Friday to commemorate the day Christ died on the cross.

Today The Sunday Examiner finds out what makes a good Easter bun.

Elphin Continental Cakes, Newstead

THE tradition of the hot cross bun is something that pastry chef Peter Elliott has been participating in for the past 30 years. He has learned from many sources on how to create a great hot cross bun.

"You have to have good-quality fruit. We use Australian sultanas and currants, wash them in hot water, drain them, and put them in glycerine which softens the fruit, keeps your bun moist, and means you get a plumper fruit in your bun," he said.

"We used mixed peel, which gives them flavour, and cinnamon and a mixed spice - some people just use a mixed spice.

"Ultimately it's about making a good product. We don't do all the tutti-frutti flavours - there is no time for making chocolate and coffee buns ... and on Easter Thursday we do one mix without mixed peel for those who don't want it."

Townsends Bakery, Launceston

PERFECTING the hot cross bun is an art form for head baker Leigh Townsend who says he listens to his customers to see what works best.

Every year, he experiments with different flavours, such as orange and poppy and mocha, but this year he is concentrating on a traditional hot cross bun "that has plenty of goodies in it".

"A good hot cross bun has to be cooked a little stodgy. Sticky squidgy buns with plenty of fruit, that's what people want," he said.

EASTER just wouldn't be Easter without the traditional hot cross bun - toasted and slathered with butter, or eaten on their own, the traditional fruit variety still seems to reign supreme.

"You have to get the right ratio - the spice and cinnamon mix has to be just right, the fruit content is also important, and sugar because people like them sweet. Hot cross buns are a big business. Every time I make a batch I give the customers a sample and this year I think I'm on track."

Olde Tudor Bakery, Prospect

THE point of difference for these hot little buns is cherry - head baker Greg Richardson says it gives his buns a taste all their own. "Customers tell us we make the best bun because they have a distinct taste," he said.

"We use Dutch spice that has eight different spices in it, and we put extra fruit in, and the cherries with their juices too. This goes through the buns and gives them that sweeter taste."

Mr Richardson said he had developed his recipe over 50 years. He said he preferred not to use mixed peel.

Legana Bakery, Legana

IT'S a family affair when it comes to the hot cross buns at Legana.

When the busy Easter time hits, head baker Neil Smith, his wife Sally, their daughter Katrina and her partner Cameron pitch in to help.

Mr Smith said a good hot cross bun needed lots of fruit, and a soft texture.

"We use Australian fruit, and extra spices, with no cinnamon, no mixed peel, and lots of love," he said.

"The recipe has changed a little bit, and we've developed it ourselves over the last three or four years."

Birdseed, Summerhill

BIRDSEED owner Jennifer Pollard serves up gluten- free whole and raw foods at this little cafe so it's no surprise that she has created a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and cane sugar-free hot cross bun.

Ms Pollard believes a real hot cross bun must contain mixed peel, a good blend of dried fruits and of course, a spice blend.

"I think I've managed to produce a gluten-free bun that ticks a lot of the boxes, and you don't lose anything," she said.

"It still has an exceptional taste and texture - it is a lovely, soft, spongy hot cross bun that contains no known allergens," she said.

Manubread, Invermay

ARTISAN bakers at Manubread focus on texture, flavour and size when creating their speciality sour dough hot cross buns.

Manubread manager Archana Brammall said the bakers, including five french bakers, used traditional methods to create their sour dough buns.

She said the dough was prepared 14 hours ahead of time and rested.

"The sour dough makes them different to anything else out there," Mrs Brammall said.

"They are also bigger than other hot cross buns and are full of fruit, so when you have a bite you will have a great helping of fruit."

ETC Elizabeth Town Bakery Cafe, Elizabeth Town

HOT cross buns are best served toasted with a helping of butter, according to ETC head baker Stephen Barnard.

He said ETC hot cross buns were made from a mixture of fruit such as currants and  sultanas, and mixed spice.

The secret to a good hot cross bun is a bit of tender loving care.

"It's about taking a bit of pride in your work and not making a cheap product, making a handmade bun the old traditional way," Mr Barnard said.

Ingleside Bakery Cafe, Evandale

SIMPLICITY and tradition are found in the buns at this bakery, which are cooked in a woodfired oven using a tried and true Ingleside recipe.

Owner Jane Shaw said their hot cross buns were classic.

"We've created our own traditional recipe and if something is good, you just stick with it," Mrs Shaw said.

"It's a 50 per cent fruit to flour mix, which makes them moist, with a generous helping of mixed spices, and the dough is rested.

"They are really soft and fresh, with no peel, and no cinnamon."

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